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Considerations for Recently Qualified Accountants looking to move into Industry from Practice amid COVID-19

The prolonged economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has led many Irish accountancy professionals working in practice to reconsider their career paths closely in recent months, as the pandemic has significantly altered the perceived value of moving to roles in certain industries.

Prominent, well-paid jobs in historically strong areas – such as banking, fund management and aircraft leasing – are now arguably less attractive with interest rates at record lows; equity markets experiencing ongoing volatility; and air passenger numbers a fraction of where they were a year ago. On the flip side, recently qualified accountants are now likely to be examining the exciting opportunities on offer in Ireland’s world leading pharmaceutical and healthcare, sector, as well as within Big Tech, as these have been the big winners from the crisis so far.

This perceptual shift is likely to continue – if not grow – in the short term, but one would be brave to predict if this trend will remain over the long-term. Industries that are suffering the most now may see the strongest recovery should the situation improve in the coming months, while currently popular sectors may see a cooling of demand.

So what are the main things to remember when considering whether to make your move into industry ?

  • Should I stay or should I go? COVID-19 has clearly highlighted some advantages of practice, namely job security, career support and progression, and personal development. However there are certain industries – whilst inherently riskier – that are undergoing monumental change at present and which require innovative financial solutions to tackle the challenge of COVID-19. These roles are likely to be increasingly valuable as the crisis progresses and could provide recently qualified accountants with an opportunity to develop new skills, gain essential commercial experience and visibility of decision making at a senior level. Before making a decision, make sure to consider this risk versus reward.
  • What skills do I have and what skills do I need? Those worried about the transition to industry should consider what skills and experience they already have to make them a success in a new role and those that will need to develop over time. With COVID-19 still impacting the jobs marketing, newly qualified professionals will clearly find it easier to secure a job in a sector in which they have previous experience auditing, for example. Those with experience in cyber-security or specific regulatory areas will also benefit. While most companies recognise that core accountancy capabilities and skills are largely transferable, newly qualified professionals must review their own competencies and upskill where necessary in order to make the right move to industry. Otherwise the risk is landing in a role that doesn’t quite meet your own expectations and career development.
  • Take your time: Linked to the two points above, newly qualified professionals should take their time when reviewing opportunities to move into industry. COVID-19 is likely to have thrown up concerns for many young accountants, but there is no need for this to lead to rushed decision making. Many of those that are worried about the impact of the pandemic are just beginning their careers and considering their first job outside of practice, so it is vitally important to make an informed choice as it will ultimately shape the direction and trajectory of a future career. Clearly these are big decisions, ones being considered in stressful times, so make sure to seek out advice and guidance from family, friends, mentors and industry professionals.

At FK International, we have over 20 years’ experience in assisting our clients and our candidates in the Irish accountancy industry. We are here to support businesses and individuals that may have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and I would be happy to have a confidential discussion about how we see the market and your recruitment options.

Robert Kennedy ACCA

Senior Recruitment Consultant | FK International | Financial Search & Selection

T: +353-1-6688060 E: rkennedy@fkinternational.com W: www.fkinternational.com